WHEN YOU WALK into the theater, you feel you’re at an American Legion community center, with hundreds of framed male portraits lining the walls. It’s a little daunting. And then Heidi Schreck as a young woman arrives to give her speech, “What the Constitution Means to Me.”
She explains that this is how she raised her state college tuition: winning speech and debate competitions about the Constitution, taking on the male power structures that surrounded her. Our 230-year-old Constitution is a wordy and tricky document, to say the least, and Schreck steps up to it with delightful rhetoric, full presence, and comic genius. She shows us why we should be in love with it and why we should uphold it.
But then things shift, and she comes to us, blazer tossed aside, as a now-40-something woman with wisdom and deep questions. The second half of the play takes us on a whirlwind history of the document with all of its problems, especially how this male-conceived, male-written constitution suppressed and continues to suppress women. Sitting quietly at the side, and sometimes explaining the rules of the speech debate competition, is an American Legion representative, played on Broadway by Mike Iveson.